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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 13, 2006

Impact of film pondered

 •  'Da Vinci' boycott debated

By Ariel David
Associated Press

ROME Roman Catholic scholars gathered Thursday to explore whether the soon-to-be-released film version of "The Da Vinci Code" will spread hostile sentiment against the church or provide an opportunity to draw people closer to religion.

Scholars including members of Opus Dei the conservative religious order depicted as a murderous, power-hungry sect in the best-selling Dan Brown novel were participating at the forum on the potential effects of the movie, set for release May 17-19 around the world.

"The movie will reach more people, so in that sense it will be a bit of a step forward for the book's ideas," said the Rev. John Wauck, a professor at Opus Dei's University of Santa Croce in Rome.

Brown's novel has Jesus marrying Mary Magdalene and having children, and it puts the church and Opus Dei at the center of a conspiracy to cover up the supposed secret. The author has claimed that while his story is fictional, it's rooted in historical fact a position that's drawn a torrent of criticism from religious and historical scholars.

The book also targets Opus Dei for its purported political and economic power as well as its use of "corporal mortification," the voluntary punishing of one's body as spiritual discipline.

Several high-ranking prelates are members of Opus Dei, an order which was particularly favored by the late Pope John Paul II.

"As a book, 'The Da Vinci Code' doesn't merit serious attention," Wauck told The Associated Press by phone before the conference. "However, as a phenomenon it demands serious attention, because a book that sells 40 million copies is not just a book, it tells us something about our society and the world we live in."